Preparing A Puppy For Life
Socialization and Training
One of the most misunderstood areas of canine behavior is that of socialization, and it often leads to considerable grief for many dogs and their owners.
Ironically the most grievous dispensers of these errors are well-meaning but ill-informed dog trainers, veterinarians, veterinary technicians, and rescues. Due to the credibility often erroneously granted to these groups in matters related to canine behaviour many companion dog owners are quite frequently led astray, sometimes with dire consequences.
A further irony is that the impact of social imprinting during a dog’s critical socialization period on its temperament and subsequently its behaviour is one of the very few areas in canine behavior that has received considerable scientific research attention.
Irony because almost every puppy socialization class offered in North America not only ignores this very thoroughly scientifically researched and important aspect of canine development but potentially, directly and indirectly, cause considerable harm because they ignore the science in favour of an income stream and congregate highly impressionable puppies in a fraught with risk, potentially negative manner that the research made clear was both unnatural and for which negative impact would be irreversible.
If you are interested, I wrote a bookon the topic for companion dog owners and breeders. In addition, I have a course intended for dog trainers, veterinarians and vet techs. If you’d like to skip the book, here’s a link to a synopsis that is well worth taking the time to read.
Rather than focusing on socializing with other dogs, which is something from an imprinting perspective is completed by 6 weeks of age and not significantly impacted afterward you will learn how to positively imprint during your puppy’s critical socialization period for real-life contexts such as:
- Infants, Crawling, and Toddlers
- Active children, particularly 8-year-old males (most frequently bitten demographic)
- Unsteady mobility found in some seniors
- Cane, crutch, walker, wheelchair and other life assisting accessories.
- Thunder and fireworks
- Alone time in a crate
In addition, many other sounds, sights, smells, textures and life experiences. When correctly done an additional bonus to proper critical period socialization is the creation of a resiliency that allows your dog to cope with unfamiliar experiences in the future and reduces instances of the sorts of anxiety so many poorly socialized dogs suffer.
There’s a bit of irony in the training approach to dogs as well. It is generally accepted that dog trainers should embrace what is referred to as Least Intrusive Minimally Aversive (LIMA) approach to their training. The irony is that group puppy and dog training classes are the most typical offering. The highly distracting nature of these classes, (unfamiliarity of the environment, unfamiliar dogs, people etc.) works against LIMA and companion puppy owners find that in order to combat the chaos of the environment and the inexperience in their puppy (and sometimes in the trainers themselves) that they are encouraged to use treats as a means to acquire attention and sometimes elements of force that would otherwise be unnecessary. Back in the most influential environment, their own homes they soon learn that the methodology has very limited transference.
In-home training (that can involve everyone that normally interacts with your puppy on a day to day basis) truly embraces the concept of LIMA and not surprisingly produces results that are far less stressful and much more effective.
The most effective approach to companion dog training – balance training – is similar to painting a picture. Some pictures require more colours than others and group classes are not ideally suited to finding all the right colours for every puppy. Some dogs are bold, some are shy. Some are older, some are younger. Some already have serious behaviour issues while others do not. Some of the dog owners will be able to control their dogs, others will not.
These things impact not only the amount of attention your puppy will receive but guarantees that it will be more one size fits all generic training and not always correctly nuanced for either you or your puppy’s learning needs. By working one on one in your home we will be able to customize your approach to best motivate and guide your specific puppy.
In addition, rather than teaching your puppy to do geometric patterns around pylons for treats to combat the distractions of strange dogs and people in an unfamiliar environment you can focus on real-life skills. Here are some of the exercises you will learn:
- House training that leads to 3 elimination times per day in one spot to aid in clean up.
- Make a quick end to puppy mouthing/nipping/biting. Read this article
- Loose leash walking – No Matter What
- Go to a mat and stay when there’s a knock at the door.
- Go to a mat when food is being prepared and consumed.
- Do not go on furniture – at all OR without permission
- Do not jump on people (without permission)
- Wait at the top or bottom of stairs indoors and out until invited
- Do not get in or get out of a vehicle without permission
- Bark only for the unusual
You will learn to teach your puppy to happily respond to all of the above and more (using a truly LIMA approach – without treats or intimidation). In fact, upon booking your appointment along with your booking confirmation you will receive an “I wish my puppy would do this…/I wish my puppy would stop doing this…/Goodness gracious I hope my puppy never ever even thinks of doing this…” wishlist template.
addition, rather than teaching your puppy to do geometric patterns around pylons for treats to combat the distractions of strange dogs and people in an unfamiliar environment you can focus on real-life skills. Here are some of the exercises you will learn:
Avoid Puppy Socialization Classes
The details as to why When we write from a standpoint from our business partner to a consumer, we use tones that entice and seduce the end purchaser of the product to look for a particular brand or choose a particular service.
By comparison, business to business copywriting uses much more factual information, because we all know how busy things are at a business. We get the point across directly using facts.
Puppy Friendly Training
Solutions For All
When we write from a standpoint from our business partner to a consumer, we use tones that entice and seduce the end purchaser of the product to look for a particular brand or choose a particular service.
What Puppy Owners Need To Know About Socialization Beforehand
Socializing Vs Socialization Imprinting
One of the most misunderstood areas of canine behavior is that of socialization, and it causes considerable grief for many dog owners.
Ironically the most grievous dispensers of these errors are well-meaning but ill-informed dog trainers, veterinarians, veterinary technicians, and rescues. Due to the credibility often erroneously granted in matters related to canine behaviour a result, many companion dog owners are led astray.
A further irony is that the impact of social imprinting during a dog’s critical socialization period on its temperament is one of the very few areas in canine behavior that has received considerable scientific research attention.
Irony because almost every puppy socialization class offered in North America not only ignores this very thoroughly scientifically researched and important aspect of canine development but potentially, directly and indirectly, cause considerable harm because they ignore the science in favour of an income stream.
Here is some of what we absolutely know about a dog’s critical socialization period.¹
- It begins at 3 weeks of age and ends at 12 weeks of age. (There is the potential for a +/- 1-week variance.)
- Dog to dog socialization runs from 3 – 6 weeks of age. (Again with a slight +/- variance.
- There is a fear imprint stage that runs from 8 – 10 weeks of age (Again with the potential for a slight +/- variance.
- The more full the range of sights, sounds, smells and textures a pup is exposed to during its critical imprinting period the more stable its temperament will be around those things and the more resilient it will be later in life if it encounters something outside of that range of experience.
- When the critical socialization period is over – it is over. No amount of training or “socialization” will impact the dog in the same way as positive exposure during its critical socialization period. (That is not to say that training can’t help by providing an alternate focus but that is not the same thing as being relaxed and accepting.)
Compare the absolutes mentioned above with the typical take on socialization as is offered in puppy socialization classes.
- Most dogs do not attend these classes until after the window has closed due as typically veterinarians advise that puppies access to public venues and other dogs are restricted until they have completed all immunizations. As a result, they are not “socializing” in a positive imprinting manner.
- Usually, the nature of these classes is only exposure to other puppies. However, since the dog to dog social skills imprinting phase is already completed at six weeks of age, there isn’t the potential for useful social skill development. However, there is an enormous potential for adverse social skill development.
- If for some reason the puppy is accepted into the class between the 8 – 10 week period (fear imprint period) and they encounter another pup disparate in size, enthusiasm and/or temperament and they have one or more negative experiences they will be imprinted for life with regard to their perspective regarding unfamiliar dogs. It is important to remember that a puppy socialization class is very far removed from what nature intended for this critical period of their lives. First, they are supervised typically by a mother much more skilled at heading off trouble than those often found overseeing these classes. Second, they wake up, play, eat, sleep with each other day after day. This provides perspective when there’s a negative experience with each other. The classes are separated typically by one-week intervals with only an hour together.
- While some dogs leave these classes imprinted into believing that unfamiliar dogs they meet in the future will be bullies to them. Others – equipped with the comparatively large in size and attitude possessed by any well-bred Cane Corso leave imprinted into believing that other unfamiliar dogs they meet in the future will be as subordinate as was their smaller socialization class counterparts. Things can unravel quite rapidly when such an ill-informed adult Cane Corso meet a dog expecting more restraint from them.
- As these classes are typically advertised as puppy socialization classes, they end up leading companion dog owners astray. Well-meaning companion dog owners are led to believe they are fulfilling their socialization obligations to their puppy’s temperament. When rather than exposure to other dogs what they should be imprinting their puppies on is, infants, crawling children, toddlers, eight-year-old males, senior citizens, simulate thunder and much much more right up until the end of the critical imprint period (12 weeks of age). This is a dangerous error for any dog but particularly one with the genetics of a Cane Corso.
As such, if you want the best for your Cane Corso, it would typically be best to avoid anything advertised as a puppy socialization class. Not only may you miss the actual socialization boat, but you may also end up doing more harm than good.
Instead, read up on what it actually is as this was just a brief overview. I have an ebook that I wrote on the topic in the resource section that contains more of the information you need to help form a bomb proof confident temperament in your Cane Corso.
Also, I always advise that when looking for a Cane Corso breeder, look for one that understands critical socialization and has it well under way before the pups are ready to leave. It will impact the futures of the puppies they breed so while the pups are still in their care, they should be rigorously implementing the sort of strategies found in the ebook. Also, they will have related recommendations for you when you take over. It’s an excellent sign of a better then average breeder.
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